[caption id="attachment_426" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Bob Dylan - Christmas In The Heart (2009)"][/caption] Christmas music is pure nostalgia. The best recordings can evoke glossy-eyed memories of great Christmas' past. That is what Bob Dylan attempts to do on his new album and first foray into holiday music making, Christmas In The Heart.
When I first heard that Dylan was putting out a Christmas album I was perplexed; yet another about face sure to leave his fans scratching their heads. Ironically, the album is in keeping with the sound and perhaps the agenda of his past four albums. Dylan's last few albums have drawn largely from the sounds of old Sun and Chess records and he has stepped even farther back with arrangements mirroring those used on holiday records over 60 years old.
If you have not heard Bob Dylan sing in the last 10 years, you are in for a surprise. Imagine Dylan if he smoked 6 packs a day for 40 years with a perpetual cold. Why you would want to hear him croak out Christmas classics was beyond me initially. Dylan has always been renown for his songwriting, yet he sticks to covers on this collection. I wasn't planning on purchasing it until I saw the video for "Must Be Santa", which details a chaotic yet merry Christmas house party. The song itself is redone as a polka with driving accordion and call and response vocals. It is easily the best tune on the album.
The video made me realize that debauchery and Christmas can peacefully coexist and that maybe I would like to hear a drunken bum sing me Christmas carols if it could serve me up a slice of good ole' Christmas nostalgic enlightenment. I had to laugh when I opened the album and was greeted by a 50's styled pin-up girl in an Santa suit. But maybe Dylan (as always) is having the last laugh. All the proceeds from his U.S. sales of the album go towards feeding families in the United States on Christmas. At least he shat this album out for a good cause.
Bottom Line Cons: Fan or not, you will most likely hate this album or like it for all the wrong reasons. Pros: Great musical accompaniment and a offbeat interpretation of "Must Be Santa". All proceeds from your purchase go to feed families in the U.S. on Christmas, though you'd be better off donating to a Salvation Army Santa.